Afghanistan dominate Scotland in Super 12 opener with 130-run win in Sharjah
Scotland looked all at sea against the high-quality spin of Afghanistan at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Monday. Off-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman wreaked havoc with a five-wicket haul when Scotland chased a target of 191 and came up short. Afghanistan won the Group 2 game in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup by 130 runs.
Mujeeb’s triple in the third over broke the spine of Scottish batting, and they never recovered. The off-spinner returned figures of 4-0-20-5, while leggie Rashid Khan came away with four wickets from 2.2 overs.
Opting to bat first, Afghan batsmen ran riot, with Hazratullah Zazai (44) and Mohammad Shahzad (22) providing a brisk start. Every batsman contributed well, but an 87-run third-wicket stand between Rahmanullah Gurbaz (46) and Najibullah Zadran (59) helped Afghanistan post 190/4 in 20 overs. It turned to be far beyond Scotland’s reach.
Now, it’s Rashid Khan’s turn to work the magic. Josh Davy is trapped lbw and Brad Wheal is clean bowled. Scotland are 60 all out in 10.2 overs. Afghanistan win by 130 runs
Chris Greaves is gone, trapped in front by Rashid Khan. Scotland are 53/8 in 8.5 overs. Now, it’s only a matter of time, before Afghanistan wrap up the match.
Mujeeb Ur Rahman is running riot. He crashes through the defence of Mark Watt and Scotland are 45/7. They are well and truly looking down the barrel. Even a hundred looks a mirage.
More trouble for Scotland. Michael Leask is done in by a Rashid Khan googly, and the Scots are 38/6 in 6.3 overs. They are falling like nine pins. This game could be over soon. Scotland have no answer for the Afghan spin magic
It looks like the news of Afghanistan’s exploits have gone out of the Sharjah stadium. More Afghans have come into the stadium, and they are cheering every wicket, while the handful of Scots are crestfallen. One more Scot bites the dust. George Munsey hacks a Mujeeb delivery onto his stumps, and Scotland are 36/5 in 5.3 overs. The powerplay is not yet over. But the match could be over soon
30/4 in 4.3 overs. That’s after Matthew Cross edged Naveen-ul Haq behind. Scotland are in big trouble. When you lose four wickets in the powerplay, it’s very difficult to stage a come comeback, especially if you are chasing a big score. The match is in Afghanistan’s bag.
This is stunning. Three wickets in Mujeeb Ur Rahman’s over. Captain Kyle Coetzer, Calum MacLeod and Richie Berrington are back in the hut. Scotland have hits the skids. And chase is in trouble at 28/3 in 3 overs.
George Munsey is an explosive opener. He’s already displayed intentions with a four and a six off captain Mohammad Nabi in the first over 11/0 in 1 over.
Afghanistan didn’t put a foot wrong against Scotland at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. They won the toss, and openers Shahzad (22) and Zazai (44) posted 54 for the first wicket, only for Gurbaz (46) and Zadran (59) to add 87 for the third wicket. With the wicket playing true, Scottish bowlers toiled without much success.A target of 191 is attainable on this placid strip. But does Scotland have the batting to do it? Early wickets could undermine the chase. And Afghanistan’s spin trio can be a handful. How will Scotland negotiate them? We shall find out soon.
Najibullah Zadran is caught on the fence off the last ball of the match. By then, he has blasted 59 runs and taken Afghanistan to 190/4 in 20 overs.
The 87-run third wicket stand is broken as Zadran falls tamely after scoring 46. The third Afghan wicket is down, but they are well on the way to a massive score.
Najibullah Zadran (48 off 28 balls) is a powerhouse. He’s been firing away sixes with ease, and the Afghan score has galloped to 166/2 in 18 overs. Now they are looking at a score at around 190 to 200. And that could put the match beyond Scotland
Afghanistan are well-placed to score over 170, which could be a par score on this pitch. The strip has been playing true with Gurbaz and Zadran striking boundaries at will. Scotland bowlers have run out of ideas, more so due to lack of help from the wicket. 145/2 in 16.3 overs
Afghan scoring hasn’t slowed down. The last three overs yielded 29 runs. Gurbaz and Najib have been keeping the scorers busy with boundaries. 111/2 in 13.3 overs. Afghanistan are well-placed to post a good score.
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Zazai (44) is gone. Big blow for Afghanistan. He’s been doing the bulk of the scoring, and quickly too. A quicker one from Watt flummoxed him. Scoring could slow down, and Scotland have a chance to come back into the match. 83/2 in 10.3 overs
Opener Hazrat Zazai, like all left-handers, is strong on the legside. Anything in the slot is despatched over the midwicket fence. Good timing too. He’s kept the sparse Afghan crowd entertained with a handful of sixes and several fours. Scottish bowlers haven’t received any assistance from the pitch. It looks like a big-scoring match.
The first wicket. Shahzad (22) chanced his arm once too often, and Sharif had him caught at midwicket. The wicket is playing true and Afghan openers haven’t encountered much problems so far. One Michael Leask over cost 18 runs, and a Brad Wheal over went for 16. Afghanistan are 54/1 in 5.5 overs.
The drums have come alive in the stands, and flag-waving Afghans are on their feet. 23/0 in 3 overs. Three more overs of powerplay left. A decent start for Afghanistan against Scotland. Except in the second over, Afghan openers haven’t been able to go after the bowling.
An expensive over from Scottish off-spinner Michael Leask. 18 runs came off the over. Mohammad Shahzad showed his explosive traits with a six from the first ball he faced. Hazratullah Zazai is not far behind, lacing a six and four from the same over.
Mohammad Shahzad and Hazratullah Zazai to open for Afghanistan. There’s a decent crowd of flag-waving Afghans. Brad Wheal to open the bowling for Scotland.
Afghanistan win the toss and opt to bat.
Afghan captain Mohammad Nabi says the wicket is dry and good for batting. We had a really good game against the West Indies in the warm-up. We'll try to repeat that combination and performance.
Scottish captain Kyle Coetzer is happy to bowl. Says teams have chased well in the IPL games in Sharjah
Welcome to Match 17 of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. Afghanistan have won all the 6 T20 internationals between the two sides. Can the Scots gain their first win over the Afghans? We will find out in the next four hours.
Afghanistan received a direct entry to the Super 12s, while Scotland posted three wins in Round One games to make the main draw. That reflects the gulf between the sides as they meet in a Group 2 game in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. On that score, Afghanistan are favourites win the encounter on Monday.
Cricket seldom follows form and logic. If the form is an indicator, Scotland’s rousing wins should give them the edge. But the Sharjah Cricket Stadium has been Afghanistan’s home ground for a while, and they know how to win here. The pitches haven’t been the same since it was a relaid this year, and that should suit the Afghan spinners.